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Boris Lurie

Rochelle G. Saidel attended the opening of an exhibit of artwork by Holocaust survivor Boris Lurie, at the new Studio House Gallery, New York. She is shown viewing Lurie's artwork, as well as holding a bag that features the logo of Lurie's No! art movement and contains an exhibition catalogue. Photos by Miles Ladin.

On September 19, 2013, the new Studio House Gallery, which houses artwork by Holocaust survivor Boris Lurie, opened the exhibit, Boris Lurie: The 1940s Paintings and Drawings. The gallery is located at 239 East 77th Street, New York. This exhibition, running until November 15, 2013, consists of 93 drawings and paintings that are part of Lurie's documentation and recollection of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. These works were created from mid-1945 though late 1946, during Lurie's time working for the Allied army in occupied Germany. The survivors he saw living in Displaced Persons Camps there resembled the victims he had seen while a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps.

Boris Lurie was born in 1924 in Leningrad, Russia. At the age of sixteen he was taken prisoner by the Nazis and held for four years at Buchenwald and other concentration camps. He moved to New York City in 1946 and began his art career there. From 1954 to 1955 he lived and worked in Paris. He first gained national attention in the United States in 1960 when, along with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher, he created the NO! art movement. The principal aim of NO! art was to bring back into art the subjects of real life. It thus stood in opposition to the two most popular movements of the era, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

In 1959, Lurie produced his controversial Railroad Collage, which superimposed a pin-up girl in front of victims of a concentration camp, causing a major furor. The work featured a flatbed stacked with corpses, juxtaposing American consumer culture with the Holocaust. Lurie was evidently well aware of sexual abuse as part of the Holocaust experience, and it is unfortunate that he died in 2008, before this subject began to enter the discourse about Holocaust history and memorialization. Remember the Women Institute is grateful to Gertrude Stein, Chair of the Board of the Boris Lurie Art Foundation, who understands the importance of bringing this subject to light and supported the publication of Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust.

Gil Yefman's artwork, while very different in medium and specific message, is not so far removed from that of Boris Lurie. Just as Lurie did in an earlier generation, Yefman uses art to comment on society and on the Holocaust in a bold way. Yefman's work will be shown in New York City at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in May 2014.

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